Council races head to the wire Tuesday SanTan Sun News

Council races head to the wire Tuesday

Council races head to the wire Tuesday
Community
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By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Chandler’s six City Council candidates have collectively spent nearly $123,000 campaigning during the last couple months as the Aug. 4 election heads into the final stretch.
Early voting to fill three seats has been underway since July 8 and the six candidates ramped up their campaigns as the weeks have rolled by.
Incumbent council members Mark Stewart and Jeremy McClymonds face challenges from one former council member, Rick Heumann, and three newcomers.
Those newcomers are OD Harris, an entrepreneur and military veteran; Beth Brizel, a businesswoman and former Kyrene Governing Board member; and Christine Ellis, who has worked in the assisted-living field for several years.
Stewart, who owns a digital marketing company, is seeking a second term while McClymonds, appointed to a council vacancy in 2018, is running his first campaign for a full term.
Heumann, who served on the council from 2009 to 2016, is attempting to win his old seat back; the city’s term limits prevented him from serving a third consecutive term.
Campaign contributions can be one factor potentially indicating how much community support a candidate has and give an inkling of their chances of winning.
“Money is always important in politics,” said Paul Bentz, senior vice president of research and strategy for HighGround, a Republican consulting firm. “But there’s been lots of candidates spending lots of money and don’t win.”
Bentz said other factors also comprise a potentially winning formula.
“Having been on the Council is beneficial,” he said. “Especially during this pandemic, incumbency and name ID are very helpful. Candidates without it can’t go door-to-door or hold events or go to typical places you go in public to meet people when running for office.”
Final pre-election campaign finance reports filed last week showing where they’ve been getting their financial support and how much the candidates are spending to win.
Final pre-primary reports for Stewart and Harris were not available to review before deadline.
Between April and July, Heumann drew nearly $28,000 in donations – the most of any candidate.
According to finance reports, he garnered support from several law enforcement and firefighter unions across the Valley.
The Phoenix Law Enforcement and Tempe Officer associations each kicked in $500 to his campaign and firefighter unions in Glendale, Surprise and Phoenix each contributed $700.
Heumann was endorsed by the Chandler Law Enforcement Association as well as the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, for which he chaired the organization’s public policy committee for several years.
Finance records show McClymonds spent about $41,000 – nearly $7,000 more than what Heumann spent – on advertising and campaign materials.
Not long after his appointment, McClymonds got to work on running for a full term and collected about $42,000 in contributions through 2019, records show.
One of his biggest donations was $6,450 from Bernard Anderson, the chief executive officer of the American Bicycle Association.
Over the last couple months, McClymonds has attracted nearly $9,000 in contributions and ended the most recent quarter with a cash balance of $34,500.
Some of his notable contributors include Dignity Health CEO Jane Hanson, who gave $500, and $250 from a managing director of JLL Phoenix, a real estate management firm that recently brokered the sale of Chandler Pavilions Mall.
Stewart spent $14,000 this last quarter and collected nearly $14,000 in donations. He also loaned $15,000 of his own money to his campaign.
Some of his donors have included businessmen who have had projects reviewed by the city in recent years.
Jason Weber, a vice president of Maracay Homes, donated $250 to Stewart on June 21 – a month after Council approved Maracay’s plans for a new 86-lot subdivision near McQueen and Chandler Heights roads.
Stewart also got $500 from the founder of Spike Lawrence Ventures, the development firm that made a deal with the city in 2018 to turn a piece of vacant land into the New Square retail complex.
Ellis reported spending $16,700 over the last four months and receiving nearly $20,000 in contributions.
In her final pre-primary report, Ellis disclosed having to refund $500 given to her campaign in July by Hot Pot Carribean Cuisine, a local Jamaican restaurant. Arizona’s campaign finance laws strictly prohibit private businesses from directly donating to a candidate’s campaign.
The Chandler City Clerk’s Office opened an investigation into Ellis’s finances last week after a Chandler resident filed a complaint highlighting multiple donations Ellis got from private entities.
Brizel received about $9,000 in contributions and spent $9,800.
She also has received endorsements and donations from several of the Valley’s law enforcement unions. The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association donated $1,000 to her campaign last quarter and Brizel got contributions from the Glendale and Phoenix firefighter unions.
Harris took in $10,000 this past quarter and spent $7,200 on his campaign.
According to finance reports, Harris notably received a flood of donations on June 26 – the same day he reported on social media that several of his campaign signs had been tampered with and destroyed.
The rest of the primary election for Chandler features few party competitions as candidates for county, legislative and congressional seats prepare for the Nov. 4 ballot battle.
One of the few contests of local interest is a three-way race for the Republican nomination in the 9th Congressional District for a chance to take on incumbent U.S. Rep Greg Stanton.
Chandler City Councilman Sam Huang, whose first term expires at the end of this year, chose not to run for reelection and is instead running in that race.
A formula based on the total number of votes cast in the council elections will determine whether any or three candidates win a seat outright and avoid a runoff election in November.
On Election Day, voted ballots may also be dropped off at City Hall from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
To vote in person early or on Election Day, registered voters must present identification. A list of acceptable IDs is available at chandleraz.gov/elections, under Frequently Asked Questions.
It’s too late to request – or even mail – an early ballot. Maricopa County Elections recommends that ballots be returned by mail no later than July 29.
It’s not clear what type of impact the pandemic might have on turnout, but preliminary data shows more than 22,000 early ballots have been cast in Chandler.
County election officials have been taking steps to ensure all residents will still be able to easily vote in a safe environment by requiring poll workers to wear masks and gloves.
The county also is allowing voters to ignore precinct rules and attend any polling place they want on Election Day.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m.-7p.m. and anyone in line at 7 p.m. will be permitted to cast a ballot.
For other polling locations, go to recorder.maricopa.gov/pollingplace.

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